Sunday, June 12, 2005

RICH WOMEN WRITE DAINTILY

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Alex Hamilton's granddaughter

I am a ruling class black sheep. I write way too much and way too often and much too loudly. I talk about money, the top verboten topic of the ruling class. Shhhhh.

I was once at a meeting of some rather rich women who were considering if I should be part of their country club in New Jersey. The topic of women's rights came up. It soon devolved into complaining about the lack of servants and how much they cost and how to avoid paying SS taxes. The mayor's wife waxed lyrical about her maid. "I take good care of her, I treat her like my own daughter."

I said, "Oh, that is why, if it is raining, she has to walk the dogs instead of you?"

Needless to say, I was kicked out.

Well, the New York Times did a piece about these sorts of ladies.
STANDING in the living room of an apartment on East 60th Street in Manhattan, Elbrun Kimmelman rang a little silver bell that was said to have once belonged to Alexander Hamilton's granddaughter and called to order a meeting of the Causeries du Lundi.
snip
Nearly continuously for 125 years, this extremely private and exclusive group has gathered at a member's home almost always on the first Monday of every month during the New York social season, from November to May, to read aloud essays that members have written on topics that interest them.
snip
Some Causeries members are also eager to dispel the idea that the club is no more than a collection of wealthy dilettantes. "The club's not about airs at all," said Susan Nagel, a member. "We don't want to be portrayed as Junior League. It's about writing something wonderful and making it catch fire."
etc. These rich ladies in the Victorian era, in between snubbing immigrants and holding their noses when passing through the Lower East Side on charity tours, would "daintily" read their writings to each other, some of them even in a loudish voice while blushing...meanwhile, because my grandmother's father committed suicide in the 1892 stockmarket crash, she had to fend for herself. This made her loud and pushy and she was one of the first women to get a degree from a previously all male University, the University of Chicago, no less.

She ended up stomping around the place without a single servant.

Back to our sweet damsels in NYC today:
Travel continues to be a popular subject. Mrs. Kimmelman, who describes her husband, Peter, as a wealth manager, recently delivered a paper on her two trips to the wilds of Irian Jaya area of New Guinea, accompanied by her two children, two guides, a cook and at least five porters.

It was an area where there were cannibals. "I never felt afraid of being eaten," Mrs. Kimmelman said, "because traditionally head-hunting is a planned activity that takes place under very special and known conditions, such as a ritualized war or ambush in declared nonsafe zones."
Seems cannibals ate one of the Rockefeller kids! Anyway, with two guides and a cook and five porters to eat first, cannibals would probably spare this lady because if she is fashionable and rich you can bet she is all bones and no flesh. Any cannibal community forced to eat very rich women would die of starvation.

As for the ritualized warfare: geeze, um, she better examine her plate more closely when she dines with the cannibals in Washington, DC.

But then, Solyent Green is...human.
The young Miss Maupin went to Holton-Arms, a preparatory school in Washington that Jacqueline Bouvier had attended a few years earlier. Her parents allowed her to enroll at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, then a place mostly for well-born Southern belles. Breaking with tradition, she won a Fulbright scholarship to study abroad. "No one at Sweet Briar had ever got one," she read.

The Fulbright changed her life. It took her to Australia, where she met her future husband, a Chinese scholar from a distinguished Swedish family. "He was my favorite combination, a person both very sociable and very bookish," Mrs. Bielenstein read. "It was an angel's match."
Oh my. Pass me the smelling salts! She bravely went out into "the world" and after all the hazards met up and mated with...a member of the European branch of the ruling elite! Wow. Talk about coincidences! And they met in Australia.

This is how they operate. Like the famous story, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" any two ruling elite can find each other in the remotest corners of the earth sans any global positioning equipment just by using their inherited inner radar.

These people float above it all. Periodically, some get sucked under when the economic waves get too rocky. Bad things can happen to them but it is easy to float back to the surface again. So long as the essential information is transmitted to the survivors: the stiff upper lip (I used to make fun of my mother's and I can do a knock down imitation of the Queen of England, myself), the noblise oblige passing of alms to the poor even when poor oneself and the cocking of the head backwards and looking down at the same time.

Oh, and the weight. You can never be too rich or too skinny. Back in the Victorian era, even, the upper crust ruling ladies kept a strict diet because this was their moral sop to make up for the other things they did. Eating daintily and carefully was drummed into little girls who also had to sit up straight (um, I sit bolt upright, my Victorian godmother insured that!), hands in lap, not staring at anyone.

Except to be mean, of course. That is fun.

Of course, talking about politics and sex and messing around with messy topics like the most dreaded of all, death, is verboten which is probably why I do all of that. I remember growing up and being punished if I said, "dead." No one died. People passed away. To this day, I can't say to someone in their face, "He is dead, Jim." Heh.

This ruling class should be carefully watched. They are shy and hide from the vulgar eye unlike entertainers or sports figures. They float into positions of power but not so forcefully that you would notice them. Some are taking a stab at public appearance by they are all appalled at how the wife of Schwarzenegger has been dragged down by her too public husband. They will be nice to her but they also would avoid bringing her to their estates. Someone might notice how they live!

This solicitude of their solitude is deliberate. It is an invisible gated community. They can stand right next to you and still be isolated. These people are the ones who sit upon the rest of humanity on the Friedman Flat Earth. Poor Friedman is Jewish so he is...not one of them. But he is a fine servant. Will be patted on his head and fed carefully.

The rewards for service are great but so are the dangers for if there is political unrest, these ladies will decamp for safer shores and quietly shove their servants into the mob to distract it so they can make their get away.
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